Sunday, July 27, 2008
WETLANDS - "Carbon Bombs" ???
During the past week, 700 scientists from 28 nations gathered at the INTECOL (International Wetland Conference) in Brazil to study and look for ways to protect endangered wetlands from further destruction.
According to the experts, the world's remaining wetlands are being greatly threatened by development, dehydration and climate change and if they are destroyed, could release a planet-warming "carbon bomb".
Wetlands, (also include swamps, marshes, peat bogs, mangroves, river deltas, lagoons, tundra) contains up to 771 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases, which is one-fifth of all the carbon on Earth and about the same amount of carbon as is now in the atmosphere.
If, at any one time, the wetlands decide to release all of this carbon, it would contribute greatly to the climate-warming greenhouse effect, observed PAULO TEIXEIRA,
the co-coordinator of INTECOL. "We could call it the carbon bomb. It's a tricky situation."
Wetlands account for 6% of Earth's land surface and store 20% of its carbon. They also produce 25% of the world's food, purify water, recharge aquifers (groundwater especially those that supplies water to wells) and, most importantly, they act as first-line defence against coastal storms.
Almost 60% of such natural resource has been destroyed due to development, pollution and peat extraction. Wetlands were unwittingly treated as wasteland by earlier civilization, not realising that they are essential to the health of our planet.
Global warming caused by other factors have worsened the situation as the rapid evaporation of water can drastically change the wetland's salinity and rising sea levels can completely flood them. These can invariably endanger and destroy its bio-diversity.
Scientist are now faced with a bigger concern with wetlands in the North, where the permanently frozen soil locks up billion of tonnes of carbon, and are at risk from climate change because warming is forecast to be more extreme at high latitudes.
The melting of wetland permafrost in the ARCTIC and the resulting release of carbon into the atmosphere may be "unstoppable" in the next 20 years.
Scientists have to admit that people are prone to have a negative image of wetlands because they are not aware of the fact that these areas are beneficial and an essential part of our Earth's eco-system.
To read this news article :